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February 17, 2017

Hello World of Friends!

Hello World of Friends!

Hope this finds you well in 2017! There’s plenty aboot on my front and I’m eager to share the details with you.
At long last and much writing / deleting / re-writing and very late nights, my rock ‘n’ roll memoir DIRTY WINDSHIELDS: the best and the worst of the Smugglers tour diaries is finally ready for publication for May 2017 on Douglas and McIntyre. It’s a book I’ve been working on for over ten years and I can’t wait to share it with you.

As the title indicates, this new book is a chronological compilation of my (at times cringe-worthy) journals that I scrawled out in a van during the entire run of my band the Smugglers, from 1988 – 2004. I was the lead “singer”. I’ve fleshed the book out with my recounting of the Smugglers broke and drunken story as we trekked across North America and eventually various pockets of the globe. The book recounts our failures (many) and successes (few). But still, we had it pretty good.

We had some wild times alongside bands like the Gruesomes, the Young Fresh Fellows, Mudhoney, the Dwarves, the Mummies, thee Headcoats, the Hives, the Hi-Fives, the Mr T Experience, the Queers, Supersnazz and so many more. All the sordid stories are included.

As always, I’ll be launching pre-orders of personally signed copies of the new book along with other perks, likely coming in the first week of March.

To celebrate the book release, the Smugglers are actually getting back together to perform our first hometown Vancouver show in over 13 years at the legendary Commodore Ballroom on Saturday May 13. It’s the only venue left from the gigging heyday of the Smugglers, unless you count the Hastings Community Centre. (We played in January in Berkeley, California for a Lookout Records reunion and had a great time).

We’re very proud and excited of the show we’ve put together at this iconic venue and we hope you can join us for the rock ‘n’ roll party of the year!

THE SMUGGLERS
THE MUFFS (from Los Angeles… first show in Vancouver is almost 20 years)
CHIXDIGGIT (from Calgary… celebrating their 25th anniverary)
NEEDLES // PINS (from Vancouver… newly signed to Mint Records)
SATURDAY MAY 13COMMODORE BALLROOM
VANCOUVER BC CANADA

Tickets go on sale on Friday February 24, 2017. If you’re in Vancouver, they’re being sold at both Red Cat Records locations. If you’re thinking about coming in from out of town, we’ll have a whole weekend of really fun festivities planned to be announced soon!

It’s gonna be a real gone gasser, so hope you can join in the fun.

Advanced praise for DIRTY WINDSHIELDS:

“Told with equal parts pride and shame, this uproarious chronicle is the perfect companion to the band’s mega-fun music.” – Ira Robbins, NYC rock writer (Rolling Stone, Village Voice, Creem, Trouser Press)

Dirty Windshields should come with a disclaimer: ‘WARNING: may induce feelings of wanderlust and the itching desire to throw a guitar case into a van and hit the road.” – Will Ferguson, Giller Prize winning author

“I can’t imagine a more perfect rock ‘n’ roll book.” – Tyler Bancroft, Said the Whale

“An epic tale told by one of rock ‘n’ roll’s greatest storytellers.” – Lisa Marr, cub

“Fucking hilarious and a joy to read.” – Allison Robertson, the Donnas

“Pure teenage rawk angst!” – Nardwuar

Upcoming events:

February

Fri – Sun 17 – 19, Galiano Literary Festival, Galiano Island BC

Fri 24, West Vancouver Memorial Library, West Vancouver BC (hosting Cea Person’s book launch for Nearly Normal)

March

Fri – Sun Mar 10 – 12, Words on the Water, Campbell River BC

April

Fri 7, North Shore Writers Festival, North Vancouver BC

Sat 8, Hope on a Grand Scale Benefit Concert, Kay Meek Centre, West Vancouver BC

May

Sat May 13, DIRTY WINDSHIELDS BOOK LAUNCH w/ the Smugglers and guests, Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver BC

June

Tue 20 Canadian Independent Music Association Awards Gala, Toronto ON

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February 5, 2017

ONE NIGHT ONLY! The Smugglers to perform in Vancouver

We are happy to announce that the Smugglers will perform in our hometown of Vancouver BC on Saturday May 13, 2017. Venue, other bands, and advance ticket information to be announced soon. Hope to see you in the Terminal City in May!

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January 18, 2017

YES! The Smugglers return to rock one more time!

photo: Aaron Rubin

It’s amazing what can happen when you say yes. After years of dormancy, my rock ’n’ roll band recently agreed to its first gig in over a decade.

The Smugglers formed back in 1988, when my suburban high-school friends and I were inspired to start a band after sneaking into Club Soda, a downtown venue on Homer Street, to see Montreal garage-rock stars the Gruesomes.

Our first gig happened a year later, at Chicago Pizza Works. (Anyone? It was also on Homer Street, kitty corner to Club Soda, and both businesses have since been Vancouverized; which is to say, they’re long gone). From there, we played more and more shows all over Vancouver, at other hallowed, now-defunct clubs like the Town Pump, the Starfish Room, and the Cruel Elephant. The Smugglers were a mainstay at Nardwuar’s legendary series of all-ages gigs.

Soon we began to venture out of town, to places like Victoria and Calgary, and we started releasing records. By the end of our 16-year-run, we’d played hundreds of shows in such far-reaching places as Japan, New Zealand, and all through Europe and North America.

When the band finally wound down like an old dog, in 2004, our problem was saying yes to just about everything. One of our founding members finally said no. And so began a very long hiatus that, for band members and fan(s?) alike, seemed liked a permanent break-up. When anyone asked, I told them I didn’t think the Smugglers would ever play another show.

Then, this past summer, I received an email from a 19-year-old promoter named Alex Botkin, asking if the Smugglers would consider a performance. I was reminded of my own teenage self, when I would cold-call our favourite bands to ask them if they would come to Vancouver to play a show.

Alex wanted the Smugglers to reform and play with several of our former Lookout Records label-mates for the 30th anniversary of 924 Gilman, a legendary all-ages punk club in Berkeley, California. We had played it many times, and it was considered the epicentre of the pop-punk explosion of the 1990s, led by Green Day, a band that practically formed within its walls.

I sent an email to the rest of the Smugglers. To my surprise, everyone said yes. Suddenly, we were back in action, booking practices, flights, hotels, and a rental van – all for one performance. At our rehearsals, despite the epic time lapse, everything clicked. Therein lies the magic of rock ’n’ roll: There’s a special alchemy that occurs when you reassemble the exact people and parts who wrote and performed songs together. I had forgotten how exciting it could be.

The days and months passed, and suddenly we were on stage in front of a packed crowd in Berkeley. Our drummer took a deep breath and gave his drumsticks three quick clicks. Just like that, we threw ourselves into our first live performance in almost 13 years. People still danced, people still cheered, and our unique five-way chemical reaction bubbled over into 45 minutes of exhausting fun.

We couldn’t help but try to capture the energy of our past, which many times had me gasping for air and wondering if Gilman had a defibrillator on hand. When we bowed to the crowd at the end of our final song, it felt like I had been repeatedly smacked in the chest by a baseball bat. But I was happy. Really happy. I don’t know if we’ll ever play again, but here’s to the magic of rock ’n’ roll, and to the power of saying yes one more time.

Grant Lawrence’s memoir of his touring years with the Smugglers, Dirty Windshields, will be out this spring. No word on any other performances.

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